Democratic Politics and Illinois Catholics
Just days after he ignored a request to excommunicate Governor Quinn of Illinois for signing into law same-sex marriage, Francis Cardinal George responded to the legislation by saying, "What's the point of talking?"
He made the comment after being asked specifically whether he would seek to deny communion to the trio of Chicago Democrats: Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton.
"Further commentary would be 'creating a story of good guys and bad guys,' the cardinal said, adding that he feels his words are 'sliced up without nuance.'"
The cardinal's silence raises a question: why would he be silent, now, about same-sex marriage, yet so out spoken about immigration reform? The same biblical and theological arguments pertain to both of these social issues. If same-sex marriage is wrong, then so is immigration reform that grants amnesty to illegal aliens.
Perhaps the cardinal is pandering to the Mexican community. "Nearly 1 in 5 Catholics nationally (are) of Mexican ancestry, according to a recently released survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University." Of those, we do not know how many are in the U.S. illegally.
In Mexico, where much illegal immigration begins and where the Catholic moral principle of subsidiarity dictates we start our relief, the Catholic Church seems to have left unfinished the job of conversion. "More than 1,000 Mexicans left the Catholic Church every day over the last decade, adding up to some 4 million fallen-away Catholics between 2000 and 2010, sociologist and historian Roberto Blancarte (claims)."
Back in the United States, a survey of many Catholic websites promoting immigration reform shows that the one word missing from most of these websites is "illegal." We read about the plight of immigrants, but never about illegal immigrants.
For Francis Cardinal George, to be opposed to same-sex marriage while at the same time not opposing the millions who are in the state illegally seems to demonstrate theological confusion. Could the Catholic leadership in Illinois be so enthralled by the Democratic Party that they can no longer think straight?
Some theologians argue that you can't be against same-sex marriage and for illegal immigration, while at the same time claiming you are a Roman Catholic in theology, biblical understanding, or tradition. To do so is to embrace both a right and a wrong.
The arguments against both illegal immigration and same-sex marriage ought to be known by the cardinal. St. Thomas Aquinas made them. He argued that nations are a natural part of the social order, along with citizenship in a nation-state.
This is the same natural order that supports marriage as a union between one man and one woman. To be an illegal immigrant, and to be in a same-sex marriage, is to sin against the natural order. To support amnesty for illegal aliens is to reward sin.
Those U.S. Catholics, especially in the hierarchy of the Church, who are enthralled by the Democratic Party, do not see the confusion in their reasoning. They have to do hermeneutical somersaults to avoid the conclusion: same sex-marriage and amnesty for illegal aliens are both morally wrong.
The confusion becomes even more evident when we see how immigration reformers often justify their position by their abuse of compassion. After all, the Church is all about compassion, right? The fog of compassion is what hides the greedy and cowardly illegal alien and turns him into a victim worthy of amnesty.
But if compassion were all that was needed, then why doesn't the compassion argument carry the day when it comes to same-sex marriage? Think of all the GLBT people who can't marry a same-sex partner. Have compassion. Approve of same-sex marriage.
Compassion does not win the same-sex marriage argument, because there are theological and biblical arguments against same-sex marriage that are more convincing. This is the case, also, when it comes to illegal immigration and reform.
A theologian does not use the light of compassion to search for morality. He uses morality to discover compassion. Such a search discloses that in spite of compassion, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration are both morally wrong from a Catholic point of view.
Could it be possible that the Catholic Church in Illinois was really not all that opposed to same-sex marriage to begin with? After all, Cardinal George has done nothing to excommunicate the Catholics high up in the Democratic Party who voted for and advanced the same-sex marriage law.
Could it be that a political deal was made that allowed for only a token resistance against same-sex marriage? That after that, the Church would get what it really wants from the Democrats: comprehensive immigration reform?
Immigration reform and same-sex marriage make obvious what many have suspected for a long time -- in Illinois, the Catholic Church is simply the religious arm of the Democratic Party. Do not be fooled. You may hear it said the bishops are bipartisan, yet what really is being said is that the Catholic Church in Illinois is led by partisans.
The Democratic Captivity of the Church is not just what some in Illinois see. Writing for Fox News, Adam Shaw claims, "For years, the majority of priests didn't dare cover controversial topics in their homilies in fear of getting angry letters from pick-and-choose Catholics outraged that their pastor dared to say something out of line with the Democratic Party."
Politics, not theology, is the key to understanding the mixed message given by Church leaders on immigration and same-sex marriage. The key that opens our understanding is simple: votes for the Democratic Party are what's important, not theology.
Democratic politicians do not lose votes because the cardinal puts up a smokescreen and opposes same-sex marriage. GLBT people in Illinois are going to vote for Democrats, no matter what Francis Cardinal George says.
Having the Church oppose same-sex marriage and favor immigration reform and amnesty for illegal aliens turns out to be a win-win situation for many Democrat politicians. At least it is for now, in this sublunary world.